New Telehealth items in response to COVID-19
On 11 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of temporary Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) Telehealth items to allow health professionals to deliver essential services to patients at risk. The items allow people to access essential health services in their home while they undergo self-isolation or quarantine and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for vulnerable people in the community.
The new MBS video conference and telephone consultation items can be utilised by treating GPs, specialists, consultant physicians, and consultant psychiatrists treating patients with a work injury where the following criteria are met:
- the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but is not a patient of a hospital; or
- the person has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC); or
- the person is considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being a person who is:
- at least 70 years old; or
- at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
- is pregnant; or
- is a parent of a child under 12 months; or
- is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised; or
- the person meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.
Additionally, these fees are available to the above health practitioners that:
- have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but is not a patient of a hospital; or
- have been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee; or
- are at least 70 years old; or
- are indigenous and aged at least 50 years old; or
- are pregnant; or
- are a parent of a child under 12 months; or
- are immunocompromised; or
- have a chronic medical condition that results in increased risk from coronavirus infection.
You can access the new Telehealth fees here.
What if my patient does not meet the criteria?
ReturnToWorkSA has created a series of new telehealth fees for treating GPs, specialists, consultant physicians and psychiatrists for the purpose of capacity certification or prescription renewal for patients who do not meet the MBS criteria but are unable or do not wish to attend an appointment because of COVID-19.
You can access these Telehealth fees here.
Are Telehealth items available to allied health practitioners?
Yes. ReturnToWorkSA has created new telehealth fees for treating physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, and occupational therapists. These fees are available to workers with an existing claim who have been impacted by COVID-19. Treating psychologists, mental health occupational therapists and social workers can provide telehealth under existing fee structures.
- Physiotherapists, Exercise Physiologists and Occupational Therapists can access the new Telehealth fees here.
- Treating Psychologists are already able to conduct initial and subsequent consultations via telephone and video calling within the existing Psychology Fee Schedule and Policy.
- Occupational Therapists providing mental health services can conduct initial and subsequent consultations via telehealth/telephone utilising the existing fee items within the Occupational Therapy fee schedule.
- Mental health social workers providing services to injured workers may also do so via telehealth/telephone and should speak with the patient’s claims manager with respect to how to charge for the service.
Can Independent Medical Examinations be undertaken via Telehealth?
Independent Medical Examinations conducted by Psychiatrists can be undertaken via telehealth (video conferencing) utilising the existing fee schedule. In certain circumstances, Independent Medical Examinations can be conducted via telehealth to assess a physical injury. It is the responsibility of our Claims Agents to ensure the claim circumstances are appropriate for a video consultation.
Expansion of telehealth
The Government is consulting with the AMA, RACGP ACRRM, RDAA to develop a whole of population telehealth model. This model will look to the best practise expansion of telehealth items for all patients, with or without COVID-19, to see any general practitioner, medical specialist, mental health or allied health professional during the COVID-19 health emergency. ReturnToWorkSA will review this information when it becomes available and adopt the fees that are relevant to the Return to Work Scheme.
Ensuring the safety of your staff and patients
We recognise that the safety of staff and patients is everyone’s top priority so we encourage you to implement your own strategies to minimise risk (for example, asking patients to phone beforehand if they are feeling unwell, asking screening questions when booking appointments).
The information on this page will be updated regularly as circumstances change. If you have any questions, please contact Scheme Support on 8238 5757 or email email@example.com. If your query is claim specific, please contact the patient’s claims manager.